Westpac Rescue Helicopter service celebrates over 50 missions

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter (WRHS) service has released statistics on the missions carried out by its AW139 fleet across the Hastings region in the past 12 months.

In a statement released this week, the WRHS announced it has carried out over 50 missions in the Port Macquarie and Hastings Council area alone in the past 12 months.

Fifteen of these flights have addressed motor vehicle or motor cycle accidents while 21were inter-hospital transfers, airlifting our most unwell patients to the required Hospital care by the John Hunter Hospital Retrieval Team.

Many more missions have been undertaken in surrounding areas from Great Lakes through to Coffs Harbour and throughout the Mid North Coast. In total, the service undertakes almost 1,500 missions per year in Northern NSW.

The rescue service is free for patients thanks to support from sponsors and community fundraising.

The service is on standby 24-7 from three bases in Newcastle, Lismore and Tamworth, all of which can be called on to service the local area.

All primary missions have a NSW Ambulance Paramedic and NSW Health Doctor on board, to take high level care direct to the scene of the accident.

In the past three months, 20 missions have been undertaken.

Types of missions executed by the rescue chopper include: 

  • Primary missions – attend accident site, treat and transfer patients to hospital.
  • Secondary missions – transfer patients between hospitals for specialist treatment.
  • Search and rescue missions – help to locate missing people, rescue and return to safety.  

On board each helicopter is a crew of pilots, doctors, paramedics, nurses and rescue crew members depending on the needs of each patient.

Crews are supported by the work of engineering teams which include experienced planners and licensed aircraft maintenance engineers. 

It costs about $40 million a year to keep the helicopters and crews ready to respond when needed.

About $12 million of the cost is raised through sponsorships, volunteer, support group activities, events and partnerships with the community.

The remainder is funded through contracts with NSW Health and NSW Ambulance.  

Recently, a Westpac Rescue helicopter attended an incident near Kempsey where a 42 year-old female was involved in a horse riding accident.